Pages of Bodies
by Tamara Grippi

From the time my friend drops me off,
I am nothing more than an image
in airport glass—a slight figure
listing from the bag’s weight.  My clothes
and hair seem so much more drab
than even the mirror in the car.
Is it possible to leave an impression
on anyone at O’Hare?  I have nothing
to offer the dazzling Swedish family
extravagantly buying coffee for their children.

On the plane the woman
next to me bends relentlessly
over her textbook of skin diseases.
Page after page of red plowed-in skin,
rashes boiling over arms and breasts
and faces, the way ivy obscures a statue.
I understand she is acclimating,
losing something of herself in these pages.

After the plane reaches ground,
we face a slight delay until the gate
can adopt us.  The passengers can hardly
bear it.  I, too, am ready to enter the world
where I am known.  But if some
miracle of plastics seals us forever
in the plane, I know someone else will
claim my suitcase and wear my clothes.
My red jumper will again be seen
in restaurants, my felt coat in the overcast city.


Tamara Grippi earned an M.A. in creative writing from the University
of California at Davis and has published in numerous journals including
Faultline Magazine, California Quarterly, Northridge Review, and
Song of the San Joaquin.

On “Pages of Bodies”:
I think my poem, “Pages of Bodies,” is an attempt to explore
sense of identity.  I am curious about how much of your identity
depends upon the people surrounding you—the people who
you.  What happens when you enter an environment where no
one knows you?  The experience of stepping out of the warm
companionship of a friend and into an airport of strangers is a
stark change.  It seemed a good time to ask the question: do I
become someone different when I am alone?

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 6, Number 1
(Spring 2011)

Copyright © 2011
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.